Court Rejection of RNC Challenge to Aggregate Contribution Limits Follows Campaign Legal Center/Democracy 21 Argument


Today, a three-judge panel rejected the Republican National Committee’s challenge to the federal aggregate contribution limits in McCutcheon v. FEC. In so holding, the court highlighted an argument in the amici brief filed by the Campaign Legal Center, joined by Democracy 21, that the challenge, if successful, would create the potential for massive evasion of candidate contribution limits through the use of joint fundraising committees, party transfers and other means of circumvention.

“The court clearly recognized that siding with the plaintiffs would have made a mockery of candidate contribution limits by opening the door for widespread evasion,” said Tara Malloy, Legal Center Senior Counsel. “A successful challenge to these aggregate limits would have allowed individuals to contribute millions of dollars to candidates and party committees in a single election. Plaintiffs’ claim that this type of money would not buy influence and create at the very least the appearance of corruption does not pass the laugh test.”

The brief filed by Campaign Legal Center, with Democracy 21, emphasized that if the aggregate limits were invalidated, an individual could contribute $5,000 toward every single House and Senate race, $30,800 to each of a party’s three federal party committees, and $10,000 to each of a party’s fifty state committees for a total of $3.5 million in a two-year election cycle. The total would be further increased by as many $5,000 contributions to PACs as an individual chose to make. The three-judge panel recognized this very significant threat and cited it in its opinion.

The case, brought by plaintiffs Shaun McCutcheon and the Republican National Committee, challenges both the $70,800 aggregate limit on contributions to non-candidate committees and the $46,200 aggregate limit on contributions to candidate committees in a two-year election cycle.

To read the court opinion, click here.

To read the brief filed by the Campaign Legal Center and Democracy 21, click here.